Opinion | Vote Counts Change. Please Don’t Panic. – By Jesse Wegman – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Wegman is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

“Imagine a parallel universe in which the sitting president cares about holding a free and democratic election in the midst of a pandemic. Imagine that his administration is staffed with competent, incorruptible officials who devote every waking hour to stopping the virus, saving lives, rebuilding the economy and preserving democracy. Imagine that the Postal Service hires tens of thousands of extra workers to process the surge of mail-in ballots.

We don’t live anywhere near that universe. But even if we did, we’d still have to worry about the “blue shift.”

It’s a harmless-sounding term, but it describes a very real phenomenon that could trigger major disputes in vote counts across the country after Election Day, lead to weeks of litigation and, most ominously, give President Trump an excuse to challenge the legitimacy of the vote if he loses it.

The blue shift refers to the tendency of votes counted after Election Day — mostly absentee and provisional ballots — to skew in favor of the Democratic presidential candidate. This has happened in each of the past four elections, according to Edward Foley, an election law scholar at Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University. Mr. Foley coined the term after the 2012 election, when he was trying to predict which closely contested states might become the focus of legal challenges by one or the other political party.”

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